A coalition of American Muslim political organizations today condemned what it called “anti-Muslim McCarthyism” by a Jewish newspaper and a prominent Jewish organization. The American Muslim Political Coordinating Council (AMPCC),* issued a statement criticizing attacks on New Jersey Republican gubernatorial hopeful Bret Schundler for speaking at a meeting of the American Muslim Alliance (AMA), an AMPCC member group. (Schundler is currently the mayor of Jersey City, NJ)
Shai Goldstein, director of the New Jersey chapter of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), told the New Jersey Star-Ledger that he found Schundler's attendance at the AMA meeting “troubling” because of unspecified statements challenging policies of the state of Israel made by group leaders. The newspaper quoted Schundler as saying that he would be caving in to anti-Muslim bigotry if he shunned AMA representatives. According to the Star-Ledger: “Schundler said ‘most’ Muslims have anti-Israel sentiments and that if he ruled out talking to anyone with such views, he would isolate an entire community.” (The controversy was sparked by a recent article in the New Jersey Jewish News.)
In its statement, the AMPCC wrote: “We denounce the anti-Muslim McCarthyism now being used by the New Jersey Jewish News and the Anti-Defamation League in their apparent attempt to politically marginalize the Muslim community in New Jersey by equating legitimate opposition to Israeli brutality with anti-Semitism. In this and similar Islamophobic smear campaigns, ethnic and religious stereotypes, distorted information, partial citations, and complete fabrications are used as tactics of intimidation. Mr. Schundler deserves to be congratulated for his courageous stance in the face of such defamation.
“We believe this attempt at political exclusion is being prompted in part by the pro-Israel lobby's alarm at the increased presence of American Muslims in this country's political process. The ADL must end its campaign of vilification and apologize to the Muslim community in New Jersey.”
The attack on Schundler and on the AMA is similar to one that came during last year's New York Senate race between Rick Lazio and Hillary Clinton. A Washington Post writer called those attacks “political pornography.” Lazio lost the election to Clinton.
“Our response, as always, should be increased political mobilization to support those who stand for justice,” said CAIR Board Chairman Omar Ahmad.
* The AMPCC is made up of: America Muslim Alliance (AMA), American Muslim Council (AMC), Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC)